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Austin360 recommended reads: Manson, New Orleans and still more X-Men

Joe Gross
"Chaos" author Tom O'Neill [Contributed by Little, Brown]

Joe Gross here, books guy at the Austin American-Statesman. Every Tuesday, look for Austin 360 Recommended Reads, a glance at what I am reading and what looks good.

Book I am reading:

“Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties” by Tom O'Neill and Dan Piepenbring (Little, Brown). About 20 years ago, a friend of mine was working on a book that was, well, almost exactly this.  He abandoned the project for a mess of reasons, even though he was pretty far along. (One reason he told me: "I realized the extent to which writing a book about Manson could bring a really weird group of people to your door and who needs that?") I contacted him when I saw a review of this monster, telling him that I was shocked his name wasn't on the thing. Turned out he and O'Neill were on similar tracks, thematically.

O'Neill is the main character here, an entertainment journalist whose assignment to write a reported piece on the 30th anniversary of the murders turned into a 20-year look at how Manson, a never-was musician and ex-con, built himself a cult and pulled off a genuinely strange crime. Who were Manson's Hollywood pals and to what extent was Manson involved with the CIA's activity in Los Angeles. Of course it sounds tin foil hat, but O'Neill mounts a fascinating argument supporting the idea that the story of this most notorious of murders has never REMOTELY been told.

Books out today (Aug. 13) that looks promising or interesting:

“Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan” by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort (St. Martins). It is here! Check out my coverage of this sure-to-be-a-hit-in-Austin.

“The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom (Grove). The hype around this memoir is both increasingly deafening and, based on early reviews, entirely deserved. Broom writes the story of her mother’s 1961 purchase of a small house in New Orleans East, married a man named Simon who already had kids (the children would eventually number twelve). Six months after Sarah was born, Simon died. An ambitious story of a family, of the superhumanly mythic city that is New Orleans, of race and struggle in the American century.

Related: Austin360 recommended reads: Kendi, Tolentino and X-Men

Interesting-looking comics out tomorrow (Aug. 14):

 “White Trees” #1 (of 2) by Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka (Image). I am not much of a heroic fantasy/ sword and sorcery guy, but anything by Zdarsky gets a chance from me.

“Powers of X” #2 by Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva (Marvel). I am just going to stop listing these as I am all in on this (increasingly controversial yet) buck wild series. This is the fourth issue, essentially, of a 12-week, three-month event that alternates between this title (the first issue of which took place now, 100 years from now and 1000 years from now -- which is awesome) and “House of X.” The hardest reboot of this franchise in forever.

"Wonder Woman: the Golden Age” Vol 3. By William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter (DC). This volume covers a bunch of stories from 1944, when Marston was still writing Diana and her pals with his, um, singular blend of feminism, dommy super ladies and bondage fetishism. Gleefully bonkers.